8 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them[a] out of their resources. 4 When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. 7 Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
9 Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’ 11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. 14 As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who opposed the rule of Hitler and stood boldly against the Nazi ideology, writes about realism as “turning away from the phraseological to the real.” For him Christianity could never be merely intellectual theory, doctrine divorced from life, or mystical emotion, but always it must be responsible, obedient action, the discipleship of Christ in every situation of concrete everyday life, personal or public.”1 This affirmation in Christ and life ended his life in prison and boldly faced death for raising the voice against the Nazi Hitler without any fear. the word of Christ, per se the message of Christ empowered him to live the will of God in spite of challenges and worries about life.
Today’s parable indicates the quality of the receiver of the word of God. There are four sets of people who Jesus highlights. I would like to shed some light on the following annotations from the text.
1. “Some seeds fell on the way;” - Hears of the Word but not doers. One of the most misunderstood books is the Bible. The sacred text gives us varieties of perspectives over life, but the blinded imagination and rigid inflexibility to human need and pain halts the power of the Gospel. The humongous truth of God gets subverted and confused because we fail to discern the message of the text to our common good. Predominantly, the narrow understanding of the scripture converts our ways as God’s way, and our destiny into God’s destiny. The inconsistency to heed the passionate voice of God leads many to interrupt the clarity towards God’s will. Eventually, the faith factors into different polarities which are pressurized by our existential instincts. “Seeds on the way” also communicates that the divine/good thoughts are prone to be corrupted or destroyed by the selfish desires of this world. Which Jesus tells the devil destroys the meaning of the WORD and misguides its listeners.
2. “Seeds that fell on rocky ground”- Here, the word is received with joy but lacks to root itself in the Truth. The path of truth is hard but natural. “Know the truth, and it will set you free”. Many Christians know what is true, but their silence to truth and insensitivity to oppose the mendacious notions destroy their own existence. We die if we partner with lies; we live eternally when we stand with truth. The hard lies never allow life to attain its fullness. When we are rooted in Christ, death becomes life; but when we are rooted in cults or personalities, then our life becomes death. The outward expressions attract, but attractions are ephemeral and ostentatious. When we are not sure about ourselves, we cannot understand anything in the world. We are called to understand our roots; we basically belong to God. Whatever we do we must be grounded in Christ so that we may reflect the truth. Being truthful is more important than being successful. Success is temporal but truth is eternal. Truth always wins at last.
3. “Seeds that fall among thorns” Challenges are inevitable in life. The word of God gives us the courage to face those challenges at face value because as 1 John 4:4 cites, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”. Worries sprout when we treat the challenges with fear. Trust in God will evade us from worries. by worrying we cannot change even an iota of any issue. However, the affirmation of God in us will give us courage to do the will of God even at the cost of life. Otherwise, the fear around us will subdue us and destroy our growth. Jesus clearly says that whoever does the will of God becomes his brother and sister. The thorns of fear will disappear when we are with God in Christ.
4. Seeds that “fell in good soil” - The everlasting spring of Goodness is none other than God. The ultimate reality, God, is the source of life, and Jesus wanted us to feel that connectivity with God. No doubt our world needs healing, and it commences with a perfect relationship with God and the space to activate our relationship in a creative way of love. We will be productive in our faith when we heal the broken world. We can reflect the unfathomable God through the acts of loving every creature of God. As Cornel West quotes, “Justice is what love looks like and, in public, demands that our imaginations and actions corroborate for an affirmative action to generate life.
May God bless these words.
1 Doberstein, John W, Life together- A discussion of Christian fellowship of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York and Evansron, 1954. This book was a translated copy of a German book “Gemeinsames Leben”.